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Nothing escapes the eye of Pete McCutchen. From dilapidated sheds to scrap yards, to expansive Midwestern Wind Farms to soaring roller coasters, his subjects vary, but his unique vision touches them all. His most recent show, GEOMETRICS, features a dozen bold images. Shot within a 72 hour period in a three block area, the GEOMETRICS series is a tour de force of lush color and precise composition.
Pete often decontextualizes his subjects, removing them from their surroundings, isolating and abstracting them. He completely rejects the notion that photography must be representational or accurate in its rendition of the world. Instead, he uses the world as raw material to create compelling and beautiful images. Reality is not a constraint: if Pete thinks the sky looks better purple, he’ll turn the sky purple. He has the perfect background to be an artist: he studied history and philosophy, went to law school, and became a lawyer. “Many people see being a lawyer and being an artist as being diametrically opposed,” he says. “Quite the opposite. When I was young, a partner I was working with told me that in order to be good, you have to see the forest and the trees. I bring the same sensibility to making art: attention to detail and precision are vital, but only in service of a strong vision.”
The images in the GEOMETRICS series are harsh and angular, technological, metal and glass. It is perhaps the least organic series Pete has ever done. And yet, the lush vibrant colors bring a life, an energy, a richness to his work. Futuristic, but more a Star Trek future than a Blade Runner future. These are works of pure color and composition. One structure in particular is made of a nearly mirror-perfect reflective metal. It acts almost as a chameleon, taking on the characteristics of the ambient light. Several of his images feature the same building — reflecting neon lights at 3:00 AM, or reflecting a clear blue sky at 3:00 PM.
Pete’s attention to detail extends printing process. He prints all his own work, using high-end Epson and HP inkjet photo printers. “As of right now, for color photography, so long as you use archival pigment inks and archival papers — which of course I do — the inkjet is the superior printing technology, certainly better than any chromogenic printing process. In terms of control, color gamut, and longevity, it is the best way to print color photographs today.” All of the works now showing at Touchstone were printed 24×36 on an HP Z3200 printer using HP Vivera inks on Canson High Gloss Paper, and then face-mounted to Plexiglas. All of Pete’s new work is sold on a limited edition basis.